South East Asia disasters: Relief efforts continue

30/10/2009

HelpAge International and local partners are continuing their efforts to assist older people caught in the earthquake, floods and resulting landslides in Indonesia, the Philippines and Vietnam.

With yet another storm hitting south East Asia at the weekend and an earthquake under the sea near Indonesia last week, our partners' ongoing relief work is now even more vital as communities struggle to cope with worsening conditions.

The further storms caused by Typhoon Mirinae a few days ago have left 7 people dead and 2,000 homes destroyed in the Philippines. Thousands more people were evacuated from their homes in Vietnam.

The Philippines

An older woman in the Philippines receives her relief package. COSE is distributing food packages to older people affected by the typhoon. Photo: Ed Gerlock/HelpAge International COSE is distributing food packages to older people affected by the typhoon.

Working with local partner Coalition of Services of the Elderly (COSE) in the Philippines, we have already reached over 1,800 people with food packages, drinking water, and clothes, in 30 of the areas affected.

Godfred Paul, HelpAge's Regional Programme Manager coordinating the response says: "The Philippines has already been hit by two major typhoons in the past few weeks and has now been hit by another powerful typhoon, Mirinae.

"We are concerned that, with limited access to health centres and people wading through water filled with debris, an outbreak of disease such as cholera is very likely."

Efforts are also being made to get medical supplies to older people and provide outreach posts to those needing medical support.

Indonesia

An older man standing outside his damaged home after the earthquake in Indonesia. Older people like this man have had their homes destroyed by the earthquake in Indonesia. Photo: HelpAge International Older people like this man have had their homes destroyed by the earthquake in Indonesia.

Work is underway to reach over 1,000 older people in the three most affected villages in Padang province.

HelpAge's partner Yanyasan Emong Lansia (YEL) have been giving blankets, tents and mosquito repellent to those whose houses were devastated by the disaster.

In addition to initial relief activities, YEL will also distribute cash grants so that older people can buy food and replace the vital belongings they lost in the earthquake.

Lucy Blown, Programme Officer for emergencies at HelpAge International explains: "With cash transfers older people can buy what they specifically need - whether that is a staple food item such as rice, or additional blankets."

Vietnam

A VWU volunteer helps to evacuate an older person from their flooded house. VWU staff have been helping to evacuate older people from flooded areas. Photo: VWU VMU staff have been helping to evacuate older people from flooded areas.

Over one million people were affected when Typhoon Ketsana hit Vietnam, inundating homes with floodwater and causing devastating damage to infrastructure.

HelpAge's partner organisation, the Vietnam Women's Union (VWU), acted quickly to provide relief to vulnerable older people in the 30 worst hit communities in central Vietnam.

In an extraordinary show of solidarity each VWU staff member donated a whole day of their own salary to pay for relief distribution. Many local branches of the organisation were also involved in evacuating people.

Here too, we will be distributing cash grants through local partners to enable older people to buy what they need to improve their current situation.

Godfred Paul says: "The work that we've been doing with the communities affected by this disaster through DEC funds is really reaching the older people that need it. Our partners are working very hard to bring much needed relief and make sure that older people get as much help as possible."

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